Your Guide to Amazon Prime Streaming
Amazon Prime is famous for its two-day shipping, but Prime also comes with several lesser-known benefits—including some excellent streaming services at no additional charge.
If you’ve ever wondered if a Prime subscription is worth it, or if you’re curious about what shows you can get with an Amazon Prime Video subscription, wonder no longer. We’ve put everything you need to know about an Amazon Prime subscription in one place.
Jump to the following sections:
How much does Amazon Prime cost?
Amazon Prime comes in three subscription options: Prime Video, Prime Monthly, and Prime Yearly. Here’s a breakdown of each:
$8.99If you just want more streaming options, Prime Video is the simplest way to go. All you’ll pay for is video—nothing more, nothing less.
$12.99Prime Monthly is the full Amazon Prime subscription, with all its bells and whistles, billed monthly. Paying monthly costs more over the course of a year than the Prime Yearly subscription, but it’s a nice option if you want to shell out less cash at once or if you’re wary of annual commitments.
$99.00Prime Yearly is the traditional Amazon Prime subscription, billed yearly. This gets you all the same benefits as Prime Monthly, but you’ll save money by paying for a full year in advance.
For frequent Amazon shoppers, it’s very possible to make up the entire cost of your Amazon Prime membership in shipping savings, which makes all the additional Prime benefits just icing on the cake.
Amazon Prime Streaming
Prime Video is Amazon’s answer to Netflix and Hulu. It’s an online video streaming service that works on Android, iOS, smart TVs, and a variety of streaming boxes. Like its competitors, it features tons of content, including some award-winning original programming.
Prime Video offers both movies and TV shows. While its library isn’t quite as extensive as the Netflix library, it’s getting there, and the original programming Amazon puts out is catching up. Here are some of the best movies and TV shows on Amazon right now:
Amazon also offers 4K streaming at no additional charge, so you can enjoy your favorites in gorgeous Ultra HD. It also integrates wonderfully with Echo and Alexa, allowing you to call up your favorite titles with just your voice.
Prime Video vs. Netflix
Compared to streaming-favorite Netflix, Prime Video offers slightly less content overall. However, it does have better children’s programming and a stronger comedy lineup. Amazon’s original programming is also catching up to Netflix, with critically acclaimed titles like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. So, if you can afford it, get both subscriptions. The content is different enough that it’s worth it.
Prime Video vs. Hulu
Prime Video and Hulu are a little more similar. They both offer live TV, and they have slower rotation cycles for content. What that means is that TV shows and movies are added less frequently than on Netflix, but they’re also removed less frequently. This can be either good or bad, depending on how quickly you tend to get through a show. Hulu does offer several popular shows that you’ll also find on cable, like This Is Us, Bob’s Burgers, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Plus, if you’re into streaming music, Spotify now offers a great deal for bundling with Hulu.
What else can you get with an Amazon Prime subscription?
You get a lot. For starters, a Prime subscription includes discounted fast shipping, exclusive access to deals and savings, streaming services for audio and video, access to the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, and plenty more.
We’ll tell you what you need to know about each feature, with a special emphasis on the streaming services offered by Amazon.
Amazon Prime Membership Features
- Free shipping
- Prime Pantry
- Prime Now
- Savings, deals, and discounts
- Prime Video
- Prime Music
- Prime Photos
- Kindle Owners’ Lending Library
- Video add-on subscriptions
- Thursday Night Football
- Membership sharing
- Amazon Echo and Alexa compatibility
If hands-on research works best for you when it comes to making decisions, try Prime free for 30 days.
Discounted shipping is probably the best and most enticing benefit of a Prime subscription. Prime members get free two-day shipping on over 100 million eligible items along with heavily discounted next-day shipping on those same items.
And if you’re one of the lucky members in select areas, you’ll get free same-day delivery or free one-day shipping on over one million items. (There are some limitations to this—the order must be over $35.00, for example.) Still, it’s hard to argue with free same-day shipping. This feature is currently available in 8,000 cities across the US.
Prime Pantry is a “store” on Amazon that offers Prime members everyday household items and food that might otherwise be too expensive to ship individually. For example, Prime Pantry allows you to order a single cereal box instead of an entire case.
This is a handy feature for non-emergency items you might need regularly, like vitamins, laundry detergent, and diapers. The one caveat to keep in mind is that these orders are not eligible for guaranteed two-day shipping due to their size and weight. Instead, they ship in one to four business days.
Prime Now offers same-day delivery on select items. Customers can also order from local restaurants and shops—restaurant orders are delivered within one hour. Delivery fees vary based on order size, but Whole Foods orders are free (Amazon acquired Whole Foods recently).
This is one of those convenience features you don’t know you need until you’ve tried it. It’s just too convenient to place an order, choose a delivery window, and know that it will arrive exactly when you request it. Although it’s only available in select major cities, Amazon is expanding the list.
Savings, Deals, and Discounts
This is a benefit of Amazon Prime that’s easy to overlook. Prime members get access to special deals on items that non-Prime customers don’t. These include exclusive brands and early access to deals with limited supply. If you’re a true bargain hunter, this is the feature for you.
Prime Music is Amazon’s streaming music service for Prime members. It’s included with your Prime membership at no additional charge. It competes against services like Apple Music, Spotify, and Google Play Music. Prime Music offers curated playlists and radio stations, as well as over two million songs to stream on demand.
If you’re into niche artists, Prime Music offers quite a bit less in terms of raw song count and content. It’ll have most of the popular artists and albums you’re likely to look for, but more obscure genres might be underrepresented.
Prime Music is not to be confused with Amazon Music (though we can totally see how that might happen). Amazon Music is an additional charge of $7.99 per month for Prime members (or $9.99 per month for everyone else). That extra charge gets you access to a much larger content library—over ten million songs—which puts it more in line with Spotify and other competitors.
Prime Photos gives Amazon Prime members free online storage for their photos. Members—along with up to five family members—can store unlimited photos and order customized gifts and prints.
Photos can be backed up from pretty much any device using free apps. There are apps available for Mac, PC, Android, and iOS. Backed up photos can also be viewed on any device, including Amazon Fire TV and Echo Show. Amazon’s software automatically organizes and arranges your photos, and a great search function lets you find what you’re looking for in a snap.
As for the gifts, options include the usual mugs, calendars, cards, and photo books. Prime members get free shipping on any photo gifts. That also includes expedited shipping on orders over $15.00, so you can nab that last-minute Mother’s Day gift and not go broke getting it shipped in time.
Kindle Owners’ Lending Library
The Kindle Owners’ Lending Library is exactly what it sounds like: Kindle owners get access to a library of books they can “check out” for no additional charge. The library has over 800,000 titles, including best sellers and all seven Harry Potter books.
Amazon Prime customers can borrow one book per month, and the books have no due date—you can take as long as you want to read them. You do have to “return” them before you can borrow another, but any highlights or notes you make are saved on the Amazon Drive in case you want to borrow or buy the book later.
Video Add-On Subscriptions
Prime Video Channel Subscriptions are the Prime equivalent of the premium channels you might get with a cable subscription. They are à la carte channels and streaming networks you can add to your Prime subscription for an additional charge.
Available subscription channels include standard premium networks like HBO®, STARZ®, SHOWTIME®, and CINEMAX®. There are also other networks you can add, like Lifetime Movie Club, PBS Kids, DreamWorks TV, and SI TV.
Check out the full list of available channels here. Prices vary, but premium channels like SHOWTIME tend to be around $8.99 per month.
Thursday Night Football
Last year, Amazon picked up the rights to stream the 2017 season of Thursday Night Football. This was a well-received move on Amazon’s part, and its largest step into streaming sports yet. After a race earlier this year that involved Amazon, YouTube, Twitter, and Verizon, Amazon won the streaming rights to Thursday Night Football for the 2018 and 2019 seasons, providing yet another compelling reason to pick up a Prime subscription.
Amazon Prime members can share certain benefits with other members of their household. This system is known as Amazon Households. You can share Prime Video, shipping benefits, exclusive offers, and other benefits with one other adult (like your spouse). Up to four teenagers in the house can share select benefits as well, and parents can monitor activity on those accounts.
Parents can also set up child profiles for kids under twelve that allow for stricter monitoring and limitations. These child profiles can be restricted to specific parts of Amazon’s digital products, like age-appropriate streaming content and Amazon FreeTime. Child accounts are not allowed to shop on the Amazon store either, so you don’t need to worry about young kids running up your credit card.
Amazon Echo and Alexa Compatibility
The Amazon Echo smart speaker lineup (and its digital assistant, Alexa) are kind of a big deal these days. The smart assistant can help automate all kinds of tasks around the house, and it makes a pretty good music player too. While you don’t necessarily need a Prime membership to use Echo and Alexa, Prime members get access to more features that make the assistant even better.
- Ask Alexa to do your shopping: ask Alexa to order an item, and she’ll take care of the rest. This feature uses your past purchase history to determine the right item to order, and it works really
- Access Prime Music to stream millions of songs without ads. Just ask Alexa to play a song, and you’ll be listening to it in seconds.
- Ask Alexa to track packages and shipments.
- Use Echo Show or Fire TV to display photos from your Prime Photos library.
- Ask Alexa to play your favorite show from Prime Video.
Amazon has thought of everything you could want or need when it comes to running your modern household, and its multibillion-dollar profits show that people are eating it up. If you’re interested in Amazon Prime (and who wouldn’t be after reading all that?), start your 30-day free trial today.
Dave is a freelance writer with a passion for tech and how it improves our lives. His work has been published on a variety of sites around the web.